News: Moto Z3 — the Good, the Bad & the Meh

Moto Z3 — the Good, the Bad & the Meh

In 2018, Motorola is no longer the same brand that introduced the world to the Motorola Droid. The once iconic company is now part of the "Others" group, scrambling for fifth place. The newly-announced Moto Z3 perfectly embodies their current state with competitive specs ... if it came out last year.

I find it easier to present the Moto Z3 by describing all aspects of the phone. Specifically, the good stuff, the bad decisions made by Lenovo when releasing this phone, and all the meh aspects. While this it's far from a terrible phone, it just seems puzzling to create in 2018.

Specs:

  • OS: Android 8.1 Oreo
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • GPU: Adreno 540
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Display: 6" Super AMOLED 18:9 display
  • Resolution: 2160 x 1080
  • Rear Camera: 12 MP RGB and 12 MP monochrome sensors
  • Front Camera: 8 MP ƒ/2.0 camera
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • Colors: Ceramic Black

The Good: 6" Super AMOLED 18:9 Display

Recognizing the importance of a great display, Lenovo (Motorola's parent company) didn't skimp on the Moto Z3's screen and opted for a Super AMOLED display. As such, the Z3's screen will be able to produce deeper blacks and wider viewing angles when compared to an LCD panel.

The display uses an 18:9 aspect ratio, so most movies will not have vertical black bars on the top and bottom of the video when in landscape mode. And at 6 inches, you'll have more than enough real estate to enjoy your movie on the go.

To compensate for the small battery (more on that later), the display is in the "sweet spot" for resolution at 1080p. Most content still only displays at this resolution, so you'll save battery life without sacrificing much when compared to other flagships with 1440p resolution.

Image by Engadget/YouTube

The Good: Android Oreo 8.1

The Moto Z3 is launching with the latest version of Android, 8.1 Oreo. Having the most recent version is excellent since Moto Z3 users will be able to enjoy new features like Picture-in-Picture mode for Netflix, which isn't available on Android 8.0. Check out our list for more interesting features exclusive to 8.1 Oreo.

Running on top of it is Motorola's light skin which isn't named. There are a few gesture controls and Motorola apps, but little else. With such a light skin and Project Treble (which the Z3 must support since it will launch with Android Oreo), this should translate to faster updates, particularly to Android 9.0 P.

The Good: One of the First in Line to Support 5G

Starting next year, Lenovo will be selling a new Moto Mod for the Z3 that brings 5G support to the phone. Lenovo will accomplish this by packing a Qualcomm's X50 modem into the physical attachment, which will be sold separately. To sweeten the deal, the Mod will add 2,000 mAh of battery capacity to your device, improving your Z3's battery life from okay to great. Pricing will be announced closer to its launch in Q1 2019.

Image via Motorola

The Bad: 3,000 mAh Battery

Let me get this out of the way. We are fully aware other phones have had similar battery capacity with the same SoC and had great battery life. However, with a phone which such as a large display, it just doesn't make sense to depend so heavily on the processor's power efficiency. Why not include a large battery so users can start with fantastic battery life and finish with normal battery life?

With the bad habits of users when it comes to charging, the capacity will shrink quickly, and with less to work with, take a significant hit in terms of how long you will be able to use your phone between charges. And yes, there are Moto Mods that include their own batteries, but those should compliment great battery life, not be necessary to achieve it.

The Meh: No Headphone Jack

While this may be a big no in your book, the fact is that once Apple decided to remove the beloved port, many companies followed. It's now the new normal. Neither the Moto Z, Moto Z Force, Moto Z2, or Moto Z2 Force had the port, so there was little chance it would make a return here.

On the bright side, with so many phones ditching the 3.5 mm jack these days, wireless options are continuing to improve each year, so we don't view this as a complete dealbreaker. Additionally, with Android 8.1 Oreo, the Z3 supports several Hi-Fi codecs such as Sony's LDAC and Qualcomm's aptx HD. While not the same as their wired counterpoints, these codecs do help bridge the gap.

The Meh: Pricing

At $480, the Moto Z3 is priced reasonably well. For a device using an SoC over a year old, with a 1080p panel and a small battery, $480 is fair. At this price, it's $19 cheaper than a Galaxy S8 (on Amazon), which its specs are comparable to (although the S8 has a far superior screen). However, there is also phones such as the ASUS Zenfone 5Z that sell for around $500, but offer more features and better specs.

The Meh: Verizon Exclusivity

Like the Pixel lineup, the Moto Z3 is exclusive to Verizon. While this sucks for those on a different network, at least if it had to choose one network, we're glad its Verizon. Not only does it have the most customers, but has one of the best data signals in the country. Instead of relying solely on e-commerce sites to sell their phone, Motorola will get advertisements from Verizon trying to push their product.

The Moto Z3 isn't going to turn around the Z-series lineup for Lenovo. Instead, by capitalizing on the lower cost of older parts to provide more economical pricing, and continuing to support Moto Mods, the Z3 seems to be enough of an upgrade to retain old users rather than gain new ones. This should be a great option for those on a budget, especially if your cutoff point is $500.

Cover image via Droid Life/YouTube

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